Wednesday, January 19, 2011

San Fransicko

my favourite

The Man of Science and I got home from San Francisco at about midnight last night. As we hauled our suitcases through the Ottawa airport, he turned to me and said, "Well, that trip was kind of a bust, wasn't it?"

Yes. Yes it was.

It shouldn't have been, though! San Francisco is awesome. The weather was amazing. Our hotel was really cool. I had a list of great places to eat and things to do. But then? Then the plague befell us. For me it started with a slight fever and cough the night before we left. Which seemed to go away. I had a hard time climbing the hills on our first day in the city, but I attributed that to the fact that I was getting over the minor sickness that had afflicted me. Until that night when I couldn't sleep for more than 12 seconds without waking myself up via coughing fit. By the time the morning of our second day of vacation came around, I could hardly talk without bursting into loopy tears. No sleep, endless coughing, general exhaustion, and freakish fever had turned me into a crazy person. And by then the Man of Science was sick too.

We cancelled out planned trip to Berkeley. We cancelled our reservations for the special "Aphrodesiac Dinner" at Millennium. We cancelled everything. I lay in bed watching bad TV and coughing for the rest of our vacation. Whenever I tried to get up and so something I felt dizzy and sick and had to go lie down again. It was a serious bummer.

All this to say that I don't have tons of glowing tales of San Franciscan foods to share with you, sorry. What I have instead is this quick series of photos of the meals that we did actually get to eat, either before the sickness overtook us or during the rare moments that we didn't feel like death. Please enjoy. And remember to take lots of vitamin C whenever you're traveling. Just sayin'.

Tonga room

Our hotel was old and fantastic and perhaps its most exciting feature was the Tonga Room, a vintage tiki bar that has basically been left unchanged since it opened in 1945. It has a pool in the middle and a live band floats out on a barge. Oh and it rains indoors. And you can get a drink served in a giant pineapple. We had a fairly tasty meal that included miso soup, broccolini, tempura, and noodles with vegetables. The band played pop music and couples danced. I do love feeling like I've gone back in time.

breakfast on the balcony

The next morning we had room service breakfast. The hotel menus all have a note on them saying that they're happy to cater to vegan, gluten-free etc. diets, so it was no problem getting soy milk for my tea and my cereal. We ordered toast, granola, fruit, tea, juice and coffee, which we ate on our awesome balcony.

falafel take out

We spent our first day walking around the city. The Man of Science, having lived in San Francisco for several years, was an excellent tour guide. We got to visit the amazing sea lions, one of whom is pictured above (me: I want to give them a hug! MoS: They probably don't want you to do that.) we went to City Lights Books and then had a drink at the bar across the street where a lot of the beat writers used to hang out. And we had falafel and discussed why all falafel sold in Ottawa is so dry and crappy, when obviously it is not that hard to make delicious falafel. My little take out platter was so great.

Gracias Madre

That night we went to Gracias Madre for dinner. As always with all-vegan restaurants, we had option paralysis, so we asked the waiter to bring us five items from the appetizer menu and we just shared all of them. It was too dark to take good photos, but this is the dish that I found the most exciting. It was a butternut squash quesadilla with cashew "cheese" and pumpkin seed salsa. I couldn't imagine how it was going to taste when I read the menu description, but it was just fantastic. Everything we ate was wonderful. Including the chocolate cake and coconut ice cream that I had for dessert. I see why people freak out over this place.

Millennium polenta

These last two photos are from our meal at Millennium, where we managed to drag ourselves on the night before we flew home. My sickness had kicked the crap out of my appetite, so I wasn't as excited as I would have normally been to try their food, but I was desperate to not waste our last night in the city. The restaurant was really lovely, with great service and beautiful food. We had the tasting menu, which gets you five smaller versions of dishes from the menu, including a dessert sampler. The dishes were mostly great mixtures of all kinds of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Up there you can see one plate I especially enjoyed, which had some pan fried polenta and artichoke hearts on top of greens, beans, and a vegetable puree.

Millennium dessert sampler

The dessert plate was amazing. There was a fruit tart, ice creams, chocolate chip and ginger cookies, an incredible two-tone silky pie thing, a brownie, some truffles, and lots of chocolate sauce and pieces of dark chocolate strewn around. It was a great meal.

Somehow we managed to get ourselves on the plane and get home, and we're now both taking a few days off to rest and recover. I'll be back in this space again as soon as I start cooking again.



Sarah P said...

Oh no! It sucks to get sick on vacation. But I'm super jealous that you went to (and drank across the street from) City Lights! I went thruogh a crazy beat phase as a teenager, and nothing made me want to go to SF more than that phase.

Fanny said...

I'm sorry about your illness! It must suck so hard being sick on your vacation. I'm happy your hotel was nice though since you spent most of the time there. And that plate of falafel looks awesome!

picky girl said...

Oh my gosh. I've been sick on vacation, and it is awful.

So sorry you missed out. Your hotel looks like an awesome place to have to hunker down, though.

And that dessert tray? Yum.

Amanda said...

It's just terrible you got sick while in San Francisco; our weather has been beautiful the past couple weeks!

I'm so glad you were able to make it to Gracias Madre and Millennium.

Rest and recover soon.

EK said...

Yeah, why does Falafel suck in Ottawa? Not OK.

PS: Vacation bummer :(

Danni said...

Sounds like you guys both had a real proper bout of flu... what a shame. Oh well, it looks like you still managed to get some tasty meals in - that desert platter looks awesome.

saveyrgeneration said...

Gracias Madre is super neat because all of the produce used is local and the menu is usually based on what's in season. super pricey though!

Samantha said...

I have the flu right now so I feel you pain! Sounds like you made the best of it. I'm dying to go to SF now. The vegan restaurants sound amazing!

awesomeveganrad said...

sick on vacation is the worst! i'm glad you got to eat some awesome food, at least, even if it wasn't all that you had planned it to be.

Lynn said...

Wow, those dishes all look amazing. Despite your illness it looks like you at least got to try some interesting and delicious meals. Now I want to go to San Francisco!

Hilary said...

Haha "option paralysis". Sorry about your bummer of a sick trip, that really sucks. It reminds me of a trip to New York 2 years ago when it basically rained solid for a week. We walked around drenched with these sad faces on the whole time and I actually started to CRY one afternoon, I was so wet and disappointed. You'll have better luck next time!

Homegrown Smoker said...

What is the Hotel Name and what part of town is it in? thanks. Nice blog.

Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

It was the Fairmont hotel and it's at the top of Knob Hill!